Top Tips To Protect Your Vehicle From Potholes: The South African Driver’s Guide
Living in South Africa comes with its own set of challenges and dodging potholes is one of them. Which is why we have put together this expert guide for drivers on our roads.
We live in a beautifully diverse country. From the stunning beaches (is December here yet?) to the mountain ranges and not to mention the wide range of cultures, languages and people in our country.
We truly live in a unique place, of course, this unique country comes with its own set of, let’s call them, unique risks. And one of the biggest frustrations drivers face in South Africa (and one of the most damaging to vehicles) is the dreaded, terrible and dangerous, pothole.
Potholes are everywhere. On every road, street, turn and dead-end. No matter how far we might run (or drive) we can’t hide from them. Which is why we need to learn how to deal with them once and for all.
Some pothole stats
Did you know that according to the South African Automobile Association, about 60% of roads in SA have potholes and are in need of some serious maintenance?
Tips for avoiding potholes
- The trick is not to wait until the last minute to swerve your car off the road, endangering the lives of other drivers and your own. Try to avoid potholes by slowing down to a reasonable speed and slowly swerve to miss the pothole.
- Keep an eye out for new potholes on roads you know! You never know when a new one might pop up on a road you are familiar with!
- Check your tyre pressure and ensure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure according to your car’s manual. This will allow for a little protection between your car and the pothole.
- Keep your eyes open for potholes at all times! Especially the ones that are filled with water.
- Keep an eye out for sand as this might indicate there is a pothole there.
- Make sure your windshield is clean to allow for the proper vision of the road.
- If the car in front of you seems to be swerving for no reason, slow down and check to see if they are trying to avoid a pothole.
- Drive at a safe speed and following distance.
- Switch on your headlights and slow down when driving in bad weather conditions.
- Avoid driving on dirt and gravel roads at night.
How potholes cause damage to your car
Potholes do not only cause damage to your tyres, but they can also cause damage to the mechanics of your car. Here are some examples of the kind of damage potholes can cause to your car.
- Your car’s suspension: If a pothole has damaged your car’s suspension, then your car might feel as though it is bouncing or bottoming out when you drive it. It might also feel like your car is swaying or out of control, especially when you try to turn. If you think your suspension is damaged, then you need to get it checked.
- The steering wheel: If your steering wheel feels like it is pulling to one side this means it could be misaligned. Wheel alignment is really important for properly handling your car and tyre function.
- Tyre damage: It’s important that you regularly inspect your tyres for wear, damage and know how to fix a puncture when you need to. (Have a look at this guide to changing a tyre). Make sure you also check the rims of your tyres.
- Undercarriage damage: Hitting a pothole might puncture or dent your vehicle’s undercarriage, which could result in leaking fluids and in time, rust.
- Exhaust system: A pothole might also damage your car’s exhaust system. If you hear any funny noises coming from the exhaust, have it checked out.
What to do when you hit a pothole
- Once you have hit the pothole, try not to brake too hard because this will force the weight of your car into the hole, resulting in more damage.
- After hitting the pothole, pull over where it’s safe to in order for you to inspect your car (especially the wheels and tyres) for damage.
- If you can, take a photo of the pothole and its street address.
- You can then report the pothole to the authorities and submit a claim. Make sure you keep all the receipts for repairs.
The sad reality is that we will all hit a pothole at some stage, but how you handle the situation can mean the difference between major damage repairs and minor ones.
Remember to stick to the speed limit and keep your eyes wide open for any holes in the road. There might be a pothole around the next corner!
Yours in uncomplicated car insurance,